Saturday, December 28, 2002
long-time readers may recall that i adore the sims. and one of my recent holiday gifts was the hilarious sims vacation.
currently, i have poor matilda milton, whose pickpocket husband john was tragically killed in a kitchen fire. the young widow blames herself, since she started the fire by being careless around the stove. if only she'd installed a fire alarm!
after a brief period of mourning, the maid swept up john's funeral urn. matilda has taken up her former husband's profession, started painting, and spent her time fruitlessly proposing to already-married neighbor mortimer goth.
after several romantic kisses, a decent breakfast, and some shameless behavior in front of the maid, he finally said to her "why don't we ever do anything fun together? only then can i decide if i want to come live here."
the beach vacation, it is beginning. . .will a close encounter with the beach shark change the aloof mortimer's heart once and for all? and will mortimer's jealous wife bella be waiting for them when the two errant lovers return?
Friday, December 27, 2002
"i walked into fog city news . . . and ended up a chocolate snob."
with a sliver of richard donnelly's dark bar with chinese 5 spices in her mouth, i understand what happened to her. the blinding light, the pounding in the ears, the buckling in the knees -- as long-time readers know, richard's chocolate is that good.
in fact, i can't resist eating one of his orange-flavored chocolate "slices" this very moment. . . .yummmm.
since food trends tend to move from california slowly on to new york, i'm hoping we will soon see this kind of chocolate appreciation wash over us here.
in other news, people have written about how the web has empowered iranian women. so i was interested to read the tale of one iranian woman's winter vacation and her deep affection for her yoga class. her group has been studying asana together for 5 years now, she writes.
this is the kind of personal voice we would never get to know without the internet. . .there's something hopeful about it. . .
Thursday, December 26, 2002
fans of harry potter know that chocolate is an anodyne for magical afflictions. the long-suffering madame pomfrey, nurse at hogwart's, often rushes into the room with large blocks of chocolate and a hammer to quickly crack off enough of the healing stuff in cases of dire emergency.
as for real life ills, science does appear to move closer everyday to understanding how the phytochemicals in cocoa help us. that some of this research is funded by chocolate firms themselves should come as no surprise in our age of reduced government funds for basic medical studies.
and while i often report on the results of health studies concerning cocoa, i have also noted if a study is funded by a chocolate company. sometimes, if the research team seems not of the highest caliber, this may make a difference.
in cases where the studies are conducted by scientists with long and well-established public records who work at top schools, it probably has less impact on the work. this is the reason i always try to link to the original study or to web pages offering the biography of the research team leader, so you can judge for yourself the record of his or her work.
this reflection was brought to my attention again today by a recent article decrying the number of studies being financed by the mars firm. it's true that the general mars product is mostly unhealthy sugar.
long-time readers know that i personally advocate eating only 1 - 1.5 oz. of high-quality, lecithin-free, vanillin-free, artisanal dark chocolate in the 60%-plus range every day. quite a small amount -- usually only 1/3 or less of the average premium bar. moderation is key here, after all!
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
today, dear readers, was the first white christmas in new york in more than 30 years. obviously, it was a day to have coffee, go to the movies, and make pizza.
so, i did. and what coffee related objects came my way on this snowy day? my little darling espresso cups from ritzenhoff, among others. but more on that later.
one of the best parts of the whole thing was having coffee at higher grounds with pals from alt.coffee, andy s. and the lovely helga. that was fun! since yesterday was mr. right's birthday, i certainly did enjoy the prix fixe dinner at the gotham grill. that certainly was the highlight.
unfortunately the dessert platter was tad light on the chocolate. . . note to gotham's new-ish pastry chef d. racicot -- while the kumquat gelato was interesting, please! take pity on your diners: put those silken chocolate gotham chocolate cakes back on the menu! while we know you love citrus, debbie, we also know you can do chocolate. . .
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
more coffee and health. . .
this from australia! that coffee may prevent gallstones was new to me. all good! have that second cup.
for those not from australia, the title may be a tad confusing. we're back to regional coffee styles here -- down under a long black refers roughly to what we might call a lungo.
a flat white is what we might call a cortado (usually defined as a "mini-latte" or half espresso, half steamed milk), but without foam -- half espresso, half foamless hot milk.
Monday, December 23, 2002
haven't mentioned this in a while. . .
and i mean randy glass' great coffee site. i personally try to avoid overwhelming you, dear readers, with the minutiae of creating the perfect coffee. my theory is that if i just point you to the way, you will travel as far down the road as is appropriate for you on your own.
but others have no fear of deep detail. thus randy glass' famed "espresso novel." 60 chapters will take you from the details of deciding what espresso machine to buy to the most technical details of coffee brewing temperature and then into the addictive habit of roasting your own coffee at home.
so for those of you considering a machine for the holidays, or who may be receiving one, let me point you to a docent who will guide you as you walk the path. . .espresso! my espresso!
Sunday, December 22, 2002
last of the last minute shopping. . .
so far i've recommended coffeegeek for a selection of items to offer coffee lovers; home-made truffles from richard donnelly's recipe for the chocolate crazed; two serious items for the bendy yogis in your life; and finally -- what for the bread and pizza people?
when i first saw it, i knew it was perfect: the unglazed stoneware deep-dish chicago pizza pan! (and here.) no worries that the black steel pizza pan will rust; no time-consuming seasoning.
just a great stoneware pan for the perfect crispy-chewy crust all pizza lovers adore. . .there's a similar idea in a heavy hand-made lasagna pan, suitable for foccaccia as well. . . all of these are along the lines of the much-beloved bread cloche.